This is the final article in our series on Performance Management.  In the previous articles we discussed the overall Performance Management process and the key elements associated with the process, such as setting expectations and reviewing performance.  In our final article we will look at one particular aspect of Performance Management – the 360º feedback appraisal as well as the outcomes form the process, and common mistakes that organisations make.

360º Feedback Appraisal

A 360º appraisal is essentially a structured questionnaire that is based around the organisation’s competency framework.  The questionnaire is completed by the individual, their boss, peers and team members and is usually completed electronically, either via the organisations own intranet or on line via an independent third party.  Typically a questionnaire consists of between 50-150 questions that are designed to test how effective a person is using a subjective scale.  For example if one of the competencies/behaviours appraised is ‘Leadership’ questions that might be asked to test their leadership competence might be:

  • To what extent does (person X) lead by example?
  • To what degree does (person X) role model the organisations values?
  • To what extent does (person X) ignore or delay tough decisions?
  • To what extent does (person X) show passion an excitement for the future of the business.

Each question is scored using a straightforward numerical scale for example: 1-6, where 1 = never and 6 = always.

The results are then presented in a terms of an individuals self perception against their boss, peers and team.  This is usually summarized against each competency, but can also be reviewed against each question.  In this way it highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the individual, and is a valuable tool for identifying development needs.  It should be noted however, that if the competency framework is tailored to meet the needs of different business units or geographies then different questionnaires will also be needed.

Performance management outcomes

Clearly for a performance management process to be effective something needs to happen as a result of it.  The outcomes from the process will therefore range from a recognition of efforts and achievements, sanctioning of bonuses and other incentives (if appropriate), consequential action for non achievement, learning actions and plans and agreeing of new targets for the coming year.

In addition, the process should also provide inputs to other business processes such as succession planning and talent management.

Common Mistakes

As a final point it is important to note that there are a number of reasons why Performance Management fails in practice.

  • Managers perceive performance management to be an HR task, when it is in fact a core management responsibility.
  • Managers do not understand or they are not prepared to invest the necessary time and energy to prepare and conduct performance reviews correctly.
  • Managers do not develop the necessary relationship, communication and coaching skills needed to set expectations, review performance and take the appropriate action.
  • Managers fail to document performance, follow up or take consequential action.
  • The organisation equates Performance Management with appraisal – a one off annual event.
  • It is assumed that personal development is about going on a course.


In our three articles we have outlined best practice, discussed setting expectations, reviewing performance and the use of 360º appraisal, as well as identifying the most common reasons why Performance Management processes fail in practice.

In light of what we have discussed, it is vital that an organisation’s board and senior management team fully understand what Performance Management is, and demonstrate their commitment to it by leading by example and using the process to manage their own performance as well as that of the organisation.

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